Business Negotiations on Video Calls – Now is the Time to Master Them!
The business environment has changed at the behest of a global pandemic and the changes are still continuing to get deeper and evolve in a new way, at the time of the writing of this article. While some changes would reverse eventually, a lot would not. It is quite likely that some meetings which had started to require that people fly half-way across the world to attend, would never be the same again – necessity turned these meetings into video calls and in many cases, people have understood that the video calls might just be more practical in many, if not all situations.
The most important ways in which negotiations change over video is:
- a lack of eye-contact the way we are used to when it’s natural
- higher possibility and convenience of the session being recorded
- technical limitations and difficulties that may hinder natural communication
- privacy and security challenges – we recommend paying special attention to ensure sensitive information is only communicated over secure channels of video-calling
- possibility of some participants taking the meeting less seriously
- a possible change in number of team members present
Prepare well to get your Video Call Right
This first step to getting your video-call based negotiation right, is to get the call working well, and to try and make sure everything looks and feels professional during the session. Apart from the audio and video quality and your connection’s stability, it can also be very impactful if you ensure that everything visible in the video frame is well let and only there if you intend it to be there.
For further information, you can check out this article by Wirecutter, for a fairly complete guide to make good professional video calls from your home.
Time to get going with the Call!
With everything else taken care of, it’s now time to discuss the immediate topic – the video-call based negotiation.
A negotiation is intended to be a win-win situation. Both parties involved must ideally benefit the most out of any negotiation. Some negotiations can be for a situation where one party just has no room to win anything out of it. Even in this rare negotiation, the aim should remain to ensure no or minimum loss to that party and given that, the best possible gain to the other party would be ideal, without any further loss to the former.
Keeping the above in mind, you as the participant (sole or lead or equal to any participant from your side) have the role to ensure a scenario closest to the above, while securing right benefits for your side, perhaps the best possible.
For this main part of our article today, we need to be using an example and being a loan lending company, we shall use an example of a scenario where you as a business partner, would with your second business partner on the other side of the video call, like to negotiate the right use of a business loan money that you just got approved for.
Keeping the Call Positive
Let’s assume that your business partner (let’s call him Mike) handles Finances and Human Resources at your company while you – and equal partner – handle operations and marketing. We assume a typical negotiation call where he has two of his team members with him at his end and so do you.
While a lot of negotiation tactics have come and gone, the most robust and timeless ones teach positivity. Keeping everything positive, calm and relaxed, has been shown to have a profound impact and leads to a more productive negotiation 10 times out of 10. Even researches conducted on negotiations involved in situations as extreme as the biggest crime scenes, support this fact so any book or expert claiming to teach you otherwise, might be misguiding.
We shall now further assume that Mike wishes to have the entire loan amount allocated to the recruitment of added staff members while you believe that a part of the loan amount needs to be spent to purchase new equipment, which can make the existing and new staff be much more productive.
If Mike were to push his point loudly, all you need to do, is soothingly ask him to explain his point and continuously make him talk more. As you keep helping him realize that you are listening to him and wish to understand his perspective more and more, his mind is bound to calm down and he shall like to talk with you more openly. This is the strong effect that positivity has on negotiations.
Understanding the Other Side
What you as a negotiation want, is to know as much of reality about the other side as you possibly can. Knowledge is power and when anyone believes that you really know them and understand them, they naturally tend to feel more connected with you and wish to work with you more.
Once in that negotiation with Mike, you establish such a genuine rapport, he shall be more confident on you and it is very likely that he is open now to trusting, that your solution also could be a way to help him make his desired final outcome be met. Your aim then, would be to help reach a situation where both your goals are met as beneficially as possible.
This is how a negotiation starts to naturally take its course towards your goals. You however often need to really “show” that you’re empathetic while you look to gain empathy from the other side. Demonstrating your understanding of the other side’s situation, actively listening and asking relevant questions, being aware of body language and emotions and positively responding to them are few of the best ways to do this. Eventually, tactful language can be used to garner empathy from the other side.
For example, when Mike says that 20% of the loan amount towards equipment can be allocated for new equipment, while you believe it should be closer to 30%, a good tactic to sought empathy would be, to complete listening and then say something like “a figure like 40% of the amount would be fair for equipment purchase, for the optimal output over a long term”. When you use words like “fair”, to represent your side, without terming the other side fair or unfair directly, the other side automatically is likely to feel that they are being considered unfair, and are likely to empathize with you eventually.
Taking notes portrays interest and dedication, while the notes you take can also be useful in the future. When you seem to take notes of what Mike says laying stress on, he is bound to feel like his points are being taken seriously by you. This is always advantageous in a negotiation.
To find out more about doing well in business negotiations on video-calls, here are more resources:
1. Video Conferencing in Business Negotiation – Harvard Law School
2. Online Negotiation Strategies: Email and Video-conferencing – Mediate.com